WASHINGTON — NFL great Santana Moss seems to think it’s no accident so many penalty calls and replay reviews go against the Redskins.
The Redskins were subject to three replay reviews in Sunday’s win over the Giants. The first came after quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson in the second quarter, to bring the Redskins within one score of the Giants. The ruling on the field — a complete pass — was reviewed and the play was eventually upheld.
On the very next drive, Giants running back Shane Vereen fumbled at Washington’s 47-yard line. That ruling, too, was reviewed and upheld.
In the third quarter, Redskins defensive back David Bruton stripped away an Eli Manning pass intended for running back Bobby Rainey in the end zone. The ruling on the field was an incomplete pass, despite Bruton appearing to have secured the ball in the end zone before falling out of bounds. Replay review agreed with the initial call, and the incomplete ruling was upheld.
While the Redskins had the edge over the Giants on reviews and penalties Sunday, this was not the norm, Moss explained to Chad Dukes and Chris Russell Tuesday on 106.7 The Fan. Their conversation began with a review of those reviews.
“When [Jackson] came up with that touchdown, the first thing that went through my mind was they’re going to take this thing away,” Russell said.
“It seems like it always happens, doesn’t it?” Moss said.
“I just fear the worst when it comes to the NFL,” Russell said.
“You fear the worst for a good reason, Russell,” Dukes said. “It’s not paranoia. Calls like that have been going against the Redskins for 15 years.”
“Forever,” Moss, who played 10 seasons for the Redskins, agreed. “We haven’t been getting those calls forever.”
“It seems like we’re always in penalty trouble,” Moss said. “And then it always boils down to a touchdown, or something of a big play that’s being taken away from us that ends up having us in the losing column.”
Moss expounded on this thought, explaining that throughout his decade in Washington, the officials have always seemed to penalize the Redskins more frequently than their opponent any given week.
“If you remember. I don’t even know what year it was, but even before I started to get on the radio with you guys, I couldn’t believe when I got over here from New York that we get a million penalties on us,” he said.
Although he couldn’t nail down the precise year, Moss recalled one specific game later in his career in which the officials, by his recall, made a particularly egregious call to take away a long gain he had made. He still seems bothered by the call.
“I mean, sometimes it’s the simplest things,” Moss said. “Like, I remember I had a game in 2011. This meant something to me, because it would have been my last 100-yard performance, and I was not a starter any more, so, you know, you’ve got to think, I collect and I think about everything I do. And I’m one of those guys that, in the moment of the game, I’m counting my stats and my yards and all that.
“So as a slot guy, I believe in 2012, I would have had 100 yards that game, and they called a hold on Trent Williams.”
“We go back and watch the film,” he said. “He clearly missed the guy and they called holding on him, and it took a 20- or 30-yard gain from me back. And I’m sitting there like, ‘That was my last 100-yard performance I would have had of my career,’ because at that time, it’s hard to get 100 yards in the slot. You don’t get that many opportunities, and especially when I was just coming in on third downs.”
“Stuff like that had been haunting our team, and it came back to haunt me, because I’ve been a guy that’s been paying attention,” Moss continued. “And watching and seeing how many penalties we get called on us week in and week out, and just to have that moment.
“To see it’s been done since they [moved on] from me, and now I’m gone and I’m watching it and it hasn’t stopped. Year in and year out, different coaches and all, we’ve been haunted by the penalties. So, I don’t know. I guess the flag is our friend.”
Moss certainly isn’t the first Redskins player to raise suspicion about some sort of perceived agenda by the officials.
After a Redskins loss to Carolina last season, since retired defensive end Jason Hatcher theorized that officials were punishing the Redskins for their controversial team name, a thought he would later amplify on Instagram (in a post he later deleted), before coming down with a sudden case of amnesia when asked to comment further on the matter three days later.
It may also be worth noting former NFL referee Mike Carey’s 2014 confession, that he had requested — and was granted — permission from the league to not be assigned to Redskins games out of his objection to their name.
Moss was asked to clarify what agenda league officials might have against the Redskins. He’s not sure what the reason might be, but he sure seems certain it’s something.
“You know, folks used to rave about how the league hates the Redskins,” Moss said. “And as a player, you look at ’em like, ‘Man. How could you sit here and possibly think that they hate us?’ But then when you start seeing the games being called, some of the games being so close.
“I used to be one of those guys in the locker room, ‘Don’t let the officials dictate our game. Let’s take advantage of these guys so we can not have to worry about the officials calling a play, or a penalty or two on us that’s going to change the whole outcome of the game.’ And, to be honest with you, it seems to happen more than often.”
“I don’t know. I’m away from the game now, so they can’t fine me,” Moss said. “But the officials, man. Do they have anything out for the Redskins? I don’t know. But it seemed like whatever it is about us, every time we faced someone, they was going to have control of how we play the game.
“It don’t matter if we take a lead or if we’re behind, they show us that, as soon as we get a little breath of fresh air and we’re moving and everything’s going smooth, it’s something that’s gonna put a dagger in our drive or a dagger in that performance.”